Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Synthetics in Star Citizen (Please?)

I know that CR has said in the past he isn't too keen on robot crew members, or the idea of ship computers/AIs flying the ship, and by too keen I mean he is pretty much apposed to it, with some of it even being in the lore. The Spectrum Dispatch even directly gave out bits of information on Star Citizen's past, failed, AI controlled ships, and platforms.

But what about Synthetics such as those from the Alien franchise or Blade Runner, of course with a few serious tweaks. They would mostly look, and act human, just like other human npcs you would hire, except be slightly more resilient to damage. Now this would of course be massively game breaking if they were just better than a human npc in every way, which is why the above mentioned tweaks would mostly be negatives compared to their movie counterparts.

To fix said issues, I have a few solutions, one, you can't buy them, you would have to rent them for X amount of time, in that way, it would be the same as hiring a normal npc human, except maybe slightly cheaper. Of course, at first glance, this just seems like another problem introducing synthetics would cause, that's why they would have to be limited. I'm not talking about limiting the number of them, but their abilities. Not as good as a npc human at conversation, not able to react on the fly to quickly changing situations, not ideal as a gunner or a pilot. Of course you could try to steal one, or just refuse to pay the fine, upon which time, if the synthetic doesn't get a command to continue working for you after the X amount of time you already payed for has been reached, it will stop following orders, and attempt to make it's way off of your ship peacefully. Only trying to leave once you next land somewhere. Now you could try to re-program them, but I would suggest this be next to impossible, if not impossible. This type of synthetic is more grown, than just built with metal and screws, you would almost have to be a engineer and a medical genius to do such a thing.

When it comes to interactions, you would have the option to tell them what to do, much the same as a npc human, but they would be more reliable to follow said orders, except not as quickly, or not as well if it's a complex, but non technical task, Shooting, piloting, boarding/defense actions, possibly not even being able to engage in combat. Think of the majority them as bargain bin workers, you rent them from a big company that pumps them out, if they get destroyed, no one cares too much, but you can hire them to do the dirty work. Don't want to have a human in the bowels of your Reclaimer, sorting through the rubbish? Get a synthetic, if he gets pulled into a machine, loses an arm, gets itself blown up while checking a derelict, or manages to get lost while exploring a big ship, and can't be found.. possibly having been sucked out of a faulty airlock without telling anyone, you just have to pay a small replacement fee to the company, on top of your normal rental price. These cheap, dime a dozen synthetics could ideally be rented in bulk, so if you need allot of people to maintenance your ship, or run lower level systems out of site, you could get a fair few with a bit of a discount.

Ideally there would be more expensive versions you could rent, ones that would closer match a human npc, possibly even better, but ideally much more expensive than just hiring someone. These would be named, unlike the cheaper ones, which might just be given call signs, or numbers, these would have their own name, and a more advanced personality. Hopefully there would even be different models, think of the Bishop line from Aliens, there are many of them, they all have the same model name, but you get to know one, and it gets to know you. If your friend thinks it's a good worker, then he could hire a Bishop of his own, except it's personality would vary somewhat in small ways, but you would know it could still perform as well as the one your friend had. Would also be nice if these self assigned themselves a name, that way if you stop renting one for a while, it goes back to the company, you could in the future, request the same exact synthetic by name, provided it's not busy working for someone else now.

These more advanced versions would lack the ability to take an extra bullet, or survive as long in a vacuum as the cheaper ones, but be capable of doing more complex things, maybe even reliably fight in some space combat and hold a conversation as well as a npc human. Still not the sort of thing you would want to fly your ship, but maybe allow it to man a turret from time to time. In the Star Citizen lore, there is allot against combat AI, so I don't think we will ever see Synthetics being used for combat roles at all, but for complex, non-combat ship functions, maybe small amounts of piloting, and system management they could be extremely useful.

I originally was thinking it would be nice to have to worry about faults, causing them to do somewhat destructive things, or betray you, but I think the chances of that happening on the cheap models should be non-existent, since it's never fun to find your ship destroyed by a random roll of dice to see if your synthetic crew goes nuts. As for the more expensive ones, I think there should be some chance for them to do odd things, just like you would expect form a npc human you hired, except maybe half the chance of the human, and never really something that would cost you too much time, or money.
TL;DR In the end, I really just want my npc crew members to be synthetics, not really for any massive benefit, but just because I love the idea of synthetics serving on a ship. Would love to have low level, relatively cheap synthetics down in the hold, looking after cargo, or basic ship operations, and far more expensive, and intelligent ones, up on my bridge, or in my medical bay, ones on par with npc humans. Nice synthetics that I can have a small conversation with, trust to man my ship, and bleed white blood if shot, or torn apart by a machine... or dangerous living cargo that I happen to be keeping.

I know it's extremely unlikely we will see anything like this, and if we do, it will either be the Arc Corp AI already hinted at, adn even then almost surely would be a new stretch goal or something like that, but a man can hope, and dream.

AI lore: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/spectrum-dispatch/12977-News-Update-WILL-WE-NEVER-LEARN Special thanks to Agent_Mothman for linking me to it. Well worth the read, and actually gives me hope of seeing some Synthetics in Star Citizen.

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